Sense of 'closure' for Stafford after 'monster' convicted
Published Monday, May 14, 2012 4:24PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 8:18AM EDT
Three days after his daughter's killer was found guilty of first-degree murder, Rodney Stafford says he refuses to live in grief and will try to make something positive out of Victoria's death.
Michael Rafferty was found guilty on Friday of first-degree murder, kidnapping and sexual assault causing bodily harm in the death of the Woodstock, Ont. girl. He will be sentenced on Tuesday.
Rodney Stafford gave a celebratory shout when he left the court on Friday, more than three years after his daughter vanished.
He told CTV's Canada AM on Monday that the verdict was expected, but still came as a relief. And once the initial excitement faded, life has quickly returned to normal.
"It's really no different. Other than the trial being over there's really no difference, Tori's still not coming home. But there is a sense of closure for all our family in the sense that this monster will be going away for a long time," Rodney said.
Family members, including Rodney, will be reading victim impact statements Tuesday before the sentencing is handed down.
Tori was eight years old when she was kidnapped from outside her school in April 2009, driven to a rural area then raped and murdered.
Her father has fought throughout the trial of Rafferty and Terri-Lynne McClintic, who earlier pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, to remind people that a young, innocent girl was at the centre of the case.
Stafford has also kept the focus on other families and victims, saying his daughter's murder should serve as a reminder that there are many other families with children who have disappeared and not been found, and whose attackers have never been brought to justice.
"It's very easy to think of others in a situation like this because in the last three years myself and my family have been on an emotional roller coaster from hell," Stafford said. "And to think there are other people out there with family members who haven't come home yet, it breaks my heart, it's unbelievable."
After jurors were given their final instructions from the judge last week, evidence they were not permitted to see was released to the court. Because police did not obtain the proper warrant to search Rafferty's computer, the jury could not be told that child porn had been found on his hard drive, and that Internet queries about underage rape has been made in the months before Tori was abducted and killed.
A forensic search also showed that the movie "Karla," a re-telling of the school-girl murders committed by Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka in the early 1990s, was also accessed on the laptop.
As a result, Stafford said the trial was frustrating but fair and said the judge "went about it the proper way."
Stafford said he is hanging on to precious memories he has of his daughter from a weekend they shared before she was abducted.
They were skipping stones on a beach in Woodstock, and Tori managed to skip a stone nine times.
"I thought she was going to collapse right there she was so happy," Stafford said. "But just the memory of having her running towards me with her arms open, yelling 'Daddy' every time I went to pick her up.
"It's just not the same to stare at a photo or a headstone now. That's going to live with all of us for the rest of our lives but there's no point in living in grief, we'll use it and we'll do something positive. We'll make something positive come of it."